By Kristi Taylor, Education Director
When I started in the role of Education Director I never imagined a day that I would be providing an education program or community panel from my spare room at home with my sneaky dog climbing up on the “good couch” (she knows she’s not allowed on) behind me- but alas here we are! The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a tremendous amount of changes for everyone, including the members of our Education Team. For those who may not know, our agency is proud to support a 6 person Education Team that does everything from making sure agency posters and brochures are distributed throughout the community to maintaining a digital presence through the agency website and multiple social media platforms to providing educational workshops, resources, and events in our local middle and high schools, college campuses, community groups and organizations, and for local professionals. Our education staff is an incredibly knowledgeable and talented group that works hard to meet groups where they are at and provide engaging programs that can ultimately connect survivors with critical services or improve the response of systems and individuals survivors interact with.
As you can imagine, most of the educational programming the team has traditionally provided was in person- which came to an abrupt end on March 13th, 2020 when we officially moved all services, including education, to remote platforms. This change was certainly a shock and in the midst of it all we were in the middle of restructuring our Education Team, with the creation of a Youth Education Coordinator position and welcoming 2 brand new staff members to the team! With all of this it would be easy to say that we folded our arms and said, “There’s no way we can do education in this reality!” but the truth is that never even crossed our minds. We knew this was the time that people needed to know that the Advocacy Center was still here, that the victims of domestic violence and youth experiencing abuse at home were not alone, that neighbors and professionals concerned about how to support someone they cared about had a place to turn. Our team knew this was one of our most crucial roles in the agency. With great pride, I reflect on how quickly staff were to adapt- we created new sections of our website to create a centralized place for how services were being provided, we wrote blogs to support parents and reduce the likelihood of child abuse and sex trafficking, we strengthened our presence on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter with shareable information to make sure the message was clear that COVID would not stop abuse and our agency was still there to help. Staff also reached out to school based personnel, partners at community organizations, and other professionals to share resources and make sure they felt equipped to recognize and support youth or adults that may be experiencing abuse. The long and short- we jumped into the unknown head first to make sure people knew who we are and how to access support.
While at the beginning we jumped into action with little knowledge of what the future would hold, we now have a little better understanding and have been able to do some planning. The reality is that we still have a ways to go until we are settled into this new world that is developing and we have done some great work towards establishing our new opportunities to engage with the community. The Education Team is emerging with a renewed energy to meeting people where they are at in creative ways. With the adoption of technology, we will continue offering live and recorded educational programming for youth, college students, community organizations, and professionals.
We will also continue to provide regular education, communication,and resources through our website, blogs, and social media platforms; please find us @AdvocacyTC on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. We will also have new offerings, including regular Watch & Chat Screenings through the Netflix Party plug in, community awareness programming and discusses during October for Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and other surprises to come.
If you are looking for an educational program on ways to prevent, identify, or respond to domestic violence, sexual assault, rape, or child sexul abuse please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call our office during regular business hours at 607-277-3203 to be connected to a member of our education team. Programming can be adjusted and presented to your workplace, school, knitting club, parenting circle, sorority or fraternity, or really most any group in Tompkins County. We hope to hear from you, appreciate your support, and know we really are all in this together.